Previously on the Board of Directors and currently director of the Child Health Associate PA Program at the University of Colorado, Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C, has been serving the Association in a leadership role for several years now and brings a wealth of experience to his new role. Here, in a nutshell, is a glimpse of the person who will be guiding the work of PAEA during 2019.
1. Has running for president of PAEA been a long-held desire or was it something that came up more recently?
Initially I became interested in running for a director at large position on the Board of Directors. Earlier in my career, through my work on various committees within the PAEA volunteer structure, I developed a deepening sense of commitment to the Association. Through this volunteer work, I became acquainted with Board members, several of whom provided mentorship and encouraged me to run for a Board position. After serving as a director at large for a couple of years and working with some outstanding and effective presidents, I decided that running for president was the logical next step in my service to the Association.
2. In thinking about the upcoming year, what aspects of your new role are you most excited about?
As I think about the year ahead, I am excited about several things. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, a highly motivated and talented group of PA educators, who always keep me inspired, often providing a fresh perspective or suggesting new and inventive ways of approaching some of the challenging issues we face. I am also thrilled to continue my collaboration with the incredible PAEA staff. But most of all, I look forward to connecting with faculty and staff from all of our member programs across the country.
3. What have you learned from observing previous PAEA presidents that will help you in your new role?
Since I have been involved with PAEA, we have had exceptionally talented and dedicated presidents. Probably the most important thing that I have learned from them is the immense value of face-to-face communication and collaboration — of meeting people where they are and solving problems together.
4. What do you see as the most promising opportunity for PAEA in the next year or two?
I am particularly enthusiastic about PAEA’s emerging role as a leader in health professions education. With the MAT initiative, the soon-to-be-released End of Curriculum Exam, the recently launched Learning Hub, and other projects, PAEA is out in front nationally. One of the areas where I think we have enormous potential is in digital transformation. While the corporate world is busy redefining digital culture, academia lags behind. But PAEA is nimble and bold, and I believe we can take the lead in this area.
5. What is the biggest challenge you anticipate the Association will face?
At the risk of stating the obvious, I think the issue that creates the most anxiety among our member programs is clinical site availability. While it is a complex problem, PAEA has been working especially hard in this area to come up with potential viable solutions. In our ongoing efforts to remain relevant to our member programs, we are committed to moving the needle on this issue during 2019 and seeing tangible, measurable benefits.
6. What have you found to be the most unexpected part of being a leader?
That it is manageable. Years ago, I looked at leaders and wondered how they found time to do it all. Now I have come to understand that you don’t lead alone; you have a team moving forward with you. As president of PAEA, I am fortunate to work with an outstanding Board and a talented staff, and, collectively, we get it done. It is very gratifying to be surrounded by so many exceptional and mission-focused individuals.
7. Do you have a favorite quote or book that helps guide or inspire you?
Not one particular quote or book, but in general, I like books that teach me new things about how humans operate. Some of my favorite reads of 2018 include: When by Daniel Pink; Radical Candor by Kim Scott; Originals by Adam Grant, and Vital Friends by Tom Rath.
8. What advice would you give to those who are considering volunteer leadership but aren’t sure they are ready to make the move?
I’m going to quote Mick Ebeling, one of our speakers from the 2018 Education Forum: “Commit. Then figure it out.” If you aren’t sure that now is the time, apply for something — anything — and see how it goes. I suspect you will get hooked!